All the news for Saturday 21 September 2019
It’s all about focus for Kat Sharkey as USA prepare for challenge ahead
Continuing our series of video interviews with the teams that will participate in the upcoming FIH Hockey Olympic qualifiers, USA (FIH World Ranking: 13) captain Kathleen Sharkey looks ahead to her team’s all-important two-match clash with India (WR:9), with a place at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on the line. The crucial matches will take place at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, India on 1/2 November 2019, with timings to be confirmed in the coming weeks. A transcription of the interview can be found below.
The FIH Hockey Olympic qualifiers will be taking place very soon. How is your team preparing for these hugely important matches?
Kathleen Sharkey: We have been training hard these last couple of weeks, focussing on our game and how we want to play those Olympic qualifying matches. We have been working on our tactics and refining those technical skills to make sure we put forward our best selves in those games.
What can we expect to see from your team in the FIH Hockey Olympic qualifiers?
Kathleen Sharkey: I think the stakes of both games is really high. It is going to be played with a lot of intensity from both teams so we should just focus on the controllables, which is our work rate and our energy and making sure we never give up.
What are your thoughts about your opponent in the FIH Hockey Olympic qualifiers and how is your squad feeling about these matches?
Kathleen Sharkey: India is a great opponent and we have a lot of respect for them. We played them last summer [in the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup 2018], and it was a draw and we know it will be a tough game against them this autumn. But we are just focussing on ourselves and if we prepare ourselves in every way possible then that will give us the best chance of winning.
Finally, what would qualifying for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 mean to you and your team?
Kathleen Sharkey: It would mean everything for us. It is the ultimate goal for this team and all the individuals to make sure the USA is represented in those Olympic Games so we will be really motivated every day in our training and we will do whatever it takes to come out on top.
Each qualifier consists of two back-to-back matches which will be played in the same venue. The winners of these FIH Hockey Olympic qualifiers will qualify for the 2020 Olympic hockey tournaments which will be staged in Japan’s capital city from 25 July to 7 August next year and involve 12 Men’s and 12 Women’s teams.
Rupinder Pal Singh back in India squad
Lalit returns from injury for Belgium tour
Operation resurrection: Drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh will attempt to impress the team management enough to make the team for the Olympic Qualifiers.
Rupinder Pal Singh made a long-delayed return to national duty after being named in the Indian hockey side for the upcoming Belgium tour on Friday.
The experienced defender and drag-flicker, whose last major outing was the 2018 Asian Games before being relegated to the sidelines, was included in the 20-member squad for the five-match series, the last outing for the team before the Olympic Qualifiers in November.
In between, he was tested on the Australia tour in May — the first assignment for chief coach Graham Reid — and scored twice in five games before being ignored again. The 28-year old, who looked to be at crossroads in his career since being ignored in the overhaul of the Indian team after the Asiad disappointment, would be among the senior-most players on the tour and would be attempting to impress the team management enough for a shot at the Qualifiers.
Also coming back after a long hiatus would be forward Lalit Upadhyay, who last played during the World Cup in December 2018 before picking up a back strain that sidelined him for more than eight months. Midfielder Chinglenana Singh, however, continues to recover from an ankle injury.
“All the players complement each other very well and we are hoping the team continues its good form. We are delighted to have Lalit Upadhyay back as he will play a vital role in the forward line. It’s fantastic to have Rupinder back as well. We are still looking to fine-tune a few aspects of our game before we leave for Belgium,” chief coach Graham Reid said.
“We have chosen a strong experienced group in what will be quite a full match schedule. Besides the five games, there will also be a full-training day with the Dutch team and it is perfect preparation for the Qualifiers.
“Belgium are a strong team and if we perform well against them in their own backyard the team will gain a lot of confidence ahead of the Olympic Qualifiers against Russia. We are expecting a tough challenge from Spain as well,” he added.
The five-match series, to be played from September 26-October 3, would see the Indians take on reigning World and European champion Belgium in three games and play two against European runner-up Spain.
Goalkeepers: P.R. Sreejesh, Krishan Pathak;
Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Surender Kumar, Birendra Lakra, Varun Kumar, Amit Rohidas, Gurinder Singh, Kothajit Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh;
Midfielders: Manpreet Singh, Hardik Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Nilakanta Sharma;
Forwards: Mandeep Singh, SV Sunil, Lalit Upadhyay, Ramandeep Singh, Simranjeet Singh, Akashdeep Singh.
Strong men's team for Europe tour
That India don't take soft looking Russian challenge in the forthcoming Olympic Qualifier easily is evident from the strong team that it announced today for the Belgium-Spain tour. The Europe bound 20-member team is a strong one reinforced with the inclusion of Rupinder Pal Singh, SV Sunil, besides goalie PR Sreejesh. India will play double header against Russia in the last of the Olympic qualifying process in Bhubaneswar in the first week of November.
The Indian Men's Hockey Team will play three matches against Belgium and two matches against Spain.
The Indian team will be Captained by Manpreet Singh and Vice-Captained by Harmanpreet Singh, and will play three matches against Belgium and two matches against Spain.
Lalit Kumar Upadhyay will be making a comeback to the Indian Men's Hockey Team after the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018, while Rupinder Pal Singh, who missed out on the Olympic Test Event, makes a return to the side for the tour of Belgium. Goalkeeper PR Sreejesh joins the side after being rested for the Olympic Test Event while Krishan B Pathak is the other goalkeeper in the team.
Defenders Harmanpreet Singh, Surender Kumar, Birendra Lakra, Varun Kumar, Amit Rohidas, Gurinder Singh, Khadangbam Kothajit Singh and Rupinder Pal Singh have been named in the squad and Midfielders include Manpreet Singh, Hardik Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad and Nilakanta Sharma. India's forward-line features Mandeep Singh, SV Sunil, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Ramandeep Singh, Simranjeet Singh and Akashdeep Singh.
"We have chosen a strong and experienced group to play in Europe in what will be quite a full match schedule. Lalit Upadhyay will get his first opportunity to impress after an extended injury and Rupinder Pal Singh also comes back in," expressed Chief Coach Graham Reid about the team selected for the event.
The Australian said that the tour of Belgium will be the perfect preparation for the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers match against Russia in Odisha, "With three tests against Belgium, two against Spain and a full training day with the Dutch team, the tour will be a perfect preparation for the FIH Olympic Qualifiers. Belgium are a strong team and if we perform well against them at their own backyard then the team will gain a lot of confidence. We are expecting a tough challenge from Spain as well."
1. PR Sreejesh
2. Krishan B Pathak
3. Harmanpreet Singh (Vice-Captain)
4. Surender Kumar
5. Birendra Lakra
6. Varun Kumar
7. Amit Rohidas
8. Gurinder Singh
9. Khadangbam Kothajit Singh
10. Rupinder Pal Singh
11. Manpreet Singh (Captain)
12. Hardik Singh
13. Vivek Sagar Prasad
14. Nilakanta Sharma
15. Mandeep Singh
16. SV Sunil
17. Lalit Kumar Upadhyay
18. Ramandeep Singh
19. Simranjeet Singh
20. Akashdeep Singh
Clinical KL leave Penang in a daze
By Jugjet Singh
Kuala Lumpur’s Qasidah Najwa Halimi scored twice during the Razak Cup match against Penang at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil. -NSTP/File pic
BUKIT JALIL: Not even the haze could stop women’s Razak Cup defending champions Kuala Lumpur from finding the target to hammer Penang 5-0 in their opening match at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
Qasidah Najwa Halimi bagged a brace in the 15th and 32nd minutes while Nur Amirah Jasmi Apindi (28th), Nur Arisha Asrul Effandi (39th) and Nur Zafirah Aziz (53rd) netted one apiece.
The KL women showed no signs of being affected by the choking haze and heat, although the sun was not visible.
For the record, even the junior international invitational Sultan of Johor Cup, sanctioned by the International Hockey Federation, was not postponed when haze engulfed Malaysia a few years back.
So, how did former Olympian K. Gobinathan prepare his KL women to tackle the haze problem?
“I did not bring up the haze issue at all when I spoke to them before, during or after the match. It was best to forget about the haze and just play our normal game,” said Gobinathan.
“That’s what my girls did and we managed a big win.
“But we also missed too many sitters against Penang. We can’t do that when we play Police tomorrow (today).
“I have 12 Malaysia Games players (Under-21) while Police have many matured and experienced players. It will be a difficult match but, if we want to keep the title, they (Police) are the team to beat.”
RESULTS — Men, Div 1 Group A:Police 0 Malacca 2, Perak 1 Johor 3.
Div 2: Kelantan 0 Perlis 9, Negri Sembilan 5 Kedah 0, Selangor 2 Armed Forces 1.
Women: Kuala Lumpur 5 Penang 0, Police 3 Johor 1.
TODAY — Men, Div 1 Group B: Kuala Lumpur v Terengganu (NHS 1, 5pm); Pahang v Penang (NHS 2, 5pm).
Women: Penang v Johor (NHS 1, 8am); Police v Kuala Lumpur (NHS 2, 8am).
*All matches at the National Hockey Stadium, Bukit Jalil.
New Straits Times
Norazlin to savour one more game with KL before Italian job begins
By AFTAR SINGH
KUALA LUMPUR: National forward Norazlin Sumantri will play one more match for defending champions Kuala Lumpur in the Razak Cup before she leaves for Italy to feature in the Italian hockey league.
The 26-year-old will fly off to Italy today to play for Agentia Club in Division One. Norazlin guided KL to a flying start in their opening Group A match when they thrashed Penang 5-0 at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
And she will play against Police today before she departs to Italy.
Norazlin, who has featured for the national team for a decade, said this is the first time she got the chance to play in the European League and she is not going to waste it.
“I’m delighted to play in a foreign league for the first time and I want to give my best in the Italian League.
“I will benefit playing in the Italian League, which is more competitive and exciting than playing in domestic tournaments, ” said Norazlin, who helped Malaysia finish third in the FIH Series Finals in Banbridge, Ireland, in June.
Norazlin added that she is expected to play 10 to 12 matches for Agentia Club in the next two months.
“But before I leave for Italy, I want to help KL win our second match against Police tomorrow (today) to seal a place in the semi-finals.
“I must thank the KL team management for allowing me to leave for Italy after playing just two matches for KL in the Razak Cup, ” said Norazlin, whose siblings are also national hockey players.
Her elder brother Norhizzat was a former national player while her younger brother Norsyafiq is a national forward who left for Seoul on Thursday to play in four Tests matches against South Korea.
KL coach K. Gobinathan said that they wish Norazlin all the best in the Italian League as the experience would benefit her.
“In the absence of Norazlin, we are left with 17 players but we have reliable players to help us reach the semi-finals. We can expect a strong challenge from Police, who beat Johor (3-1) today (yesterday) in the match, ” said Gobinathan.
The Star of Malaysia
Kazan’s Anwar looking to have another blast at EHL KO16
Dinamo Kazan’s Hassan Anwar says “things are going to be different” this time around as he looks forward to his second Euro Hockey League weekend at the KO16 in Barcelona from October 4-6.
The well-travelled Pakistani player admits results were disappointing last Easter in Eindhoven when they could not pressurise the star-studded Mannheimer HC and HC Oranje-Rood sides.
Nonetheless, he described the experience as “a blast” and “an amazing atmosphere” which he hopes will be the same in Spain. At the Pau Negre Stadium, Kazan – the only side to play in every season of the EHL – face Saint Germain whom they will hope to beat to land Russia’s first-ever win in an EHL knock-out match.
They will go into the tie just a couple of days after the completion of the Russian playoffs which they qualified for in second place from the regular season, finishing that phase just below Dinamo Elektrostal.
“The Russian hockey league is growing every year and the league is getting really tough with that,” he told the EHL website.
“So far, we are doing great with the season, we directly qualifying for the playoffs. We have a couple of weeks to work on our structural errors but I think we are pretty much prepared for it.”
Anwar is one of three players from Pakistan in the current Kazan squad along with Ali Shan and Abu Mahmood. It continues their succession of players to make that move with Imran Warsi one of the early stars of the EHL.
Anwar played for Gladbacher in Germany in 2017 before linking up with his national team and then played in Australia where he linked up with Adnan Maqsood who suggested a potential Russian move.
“My friend Adnan had communication with the director and the coach of Dinamo Kazan and they were looking for a defender/midfielder so he asked me; I gave it a positive reply and, after further communication with the club, finally made it to Russia.
“The hockey experience has been amazing; I’m really enjoying my time and hockey in Russia. Of course, hockey is very different in every continent but I’m lucky I have had the opportunity to explore it!
“Kazan is a really cool place; like other European cities, the lifestyle is quite similar. I didn’t have any idea about what the city of Kazan was like but it’s an amazing city and I’m really impressed by Russia, it is absolutely stunning.”
As for their EHL campaign, the October schedule will give Kazan a much stronger lead-in time compared to usual. The Easter KO16 came toward the end of their season’s lengthy winter break with only indoor training sessions and tours as preparation.
This time, they will have a bank of competitive games under their belt which will serve them well for the challenge of Saint Ger.
“It’s gonna to be a bit of fun this year because we don’t really have winter before the EHL so we’ll have normal preparations. Right after finishing the playoffs, we will be in Barcelona so this year, the guys will be extremely focused for the both events – playoffs and EHL.”
The meeting will be the second time Dinamo Kazan have played Saint Germain, the previous encounter way back in March 2008 when the French side prevailed 1-0.
Euro Hockey League media release
Scottish Premiership action gets underway this weekend
Men’s Scottish Cup Final – Edinburgh University v Grange – photo by Duncan Gray
This season starts with a new Scottish Hockey Premiership and the game now divided into four quarters amongst other changes, but all eyes will be on Grange (men) and Edinburgh University (women) to see if they can retain their league titles.
It would appear that Grange are in the throes of transition, their line-up this season will be markedly different from the side that won the treble in style last time out.
Most significantly David Knipe stands down as coach after four successful years at the helm. He has decided “it is time for a break and to re-charge the batteries after an extremely successful period in charge of Grange.” The champions will now be under the dual aegis of Callum Milne, an influential player over the last six years, and Stevie Grubb who steps up from two years as second team coach.
But the Edinburgh side will have to retain their crown without the services of midfield dynamo Cammie Fraser, prolific striker Frank Ryan, Greg Hopkinson along with Todd Mills – they have all retired. Also gone is Dylan Bean who returns to Australia.
In compensation, Grange have signed up the services of Scotland keeper David Forrester from French side Montrouge, along with new Aussie import Josh McRae who will bolster the forward line. Further, Will Shepherdson returns from Edinburgh University while talented youngsters Jamie Croll, Cameron Ede and Joel Davenport will be fighting to break into the first team line-up
New manager Martin Shepherdson said: “We expect to be very competitive in the league and cup, and also aim to prove competitive in the EHL although it comes very early in the season for our new squad.”
For Grange this weekend`s opening clash is against Kelburne. The Paisley club finished last season in ninth place and only avoided the drop in a relegation play-off. Kelburne are still under the control of coach Gordon Shepherd and it will be interesting to see if last season`s late surge of form continues into this term.
So who will be in line to challenge for honours should Grange falter?
Grove Menzieshill were last season`s runners-up, and should be challengers again. But they will have to maintain the momentum without talented striker Cameron Golden, he has left these shores for top Dutch side Klein Zwitzerland.
The Taysiders begin their campaign at home to Hillhead who finished seventh last time.
Western Wildcats also have the potential to make their mark with a pack of talented youngsters. Last season they rose to the occasion by finishing third in the table, only a point behind Grove Menzieshill, but they faltered somewhat at the final hurdle in all three competitions when the chips were down.
The Wildcats are also under new coaching management, former Scotland midfielder Vishal Marwaha takes over from Harry Dunlop. Early proof of Marwaha`s influence might manifest itself at Titwood on Saturday when the Western Wildcats take on Clydesdale in a local fixture.
Last season the Titwood outfit had their ups and their downs, and finally finished sixth. Ciaran Crawford continues as coach and will hope that they start their season on a high and dent Marwaha`s aspirations.
The final match is an East coast derby between Edinburgh University and Watsonians.
Newly promoted Dundee Wanderers will have to wait another week to made their top flight baptism, their scheduled fixture with Uddingston is postponed to the following week.
Edinburgh University v Clydesdale Western – photo by Duncan Gray
Last season the women`s competition went down to the wire, Sam Judges`s Edinburgh University finally taking the crown with a three point margin. The following pack of Clydesdale Western, Wildcats and Dundee Wanderers all finished on 41 points at the end of the day – a competitive denouement.
As always, with an annual turn-over of players, Judge is cautious about the future.
Judge said: “We`ve got a young squad, but we`re looking at a top four finish.”
Perhaps her caution is based on the influential players that have moved on. Gone are Ellie Hutcheson who has moved to the USA, Zara Malseed back to Ireland and Sophie Maunder to England.
Yet Judge also listed some promising new recruits, Katie Robertson from Grove Menzieshill, Erin Gilchrist from the USA, Eve Pearson and Georgia Jones from Watsonians, under-21 international Jika Nyirenda from Beeston and finally Kirsten Cannon from Western Wildcats – not a bad haul to bolster the talent at Peffermill.
The new students will have to hit the ground running as Watsonians are the visitors to Peffermill. Over the last few years Watsonians have made steady improvement under coach Keith Smith and finished a creditable fifth last season.
But Edinburgh`s monopoly of honours took a dent when Western Wildcats grabbed top spot in the European play-offs with a final 2-0 win over Clydesdale, Heather Aitken and Megan Cox doing the damage. Having broken through in the domestic scene and qualified for Europe for the first time in the club`s history, Western Wildcats will hope to go on to build on last season`s breakthrough.
Western Wildcats have purred along nicely under player/coach Kaz Cuthbert, especially with Kate Holmes, McKenzie Bell, Catriona Booth, Rachel Bain and Becky Ward still in the ranks for this season`s campaign.
“The squad is looking strong and the aim for the season is to retain our title as Grand Finals champions,” said Cuthbert.
Newly promoted Merlin Gordonians could be the first side to feel impact of the Western Wildcats` claws in the opening fixture in the North-East.
Likely challengers Clydesdale Western and Dundee Wanderers will hope to get off to a winning start at home to Hillhead and GHK respectively.
In the final fixture on the opening day`s card Grove Menzieshill, a disappointment last season to find themselves out of the top four, take on Glasgow University who managed to survive their first exposure to the top flight.
Scottish Hockey Union media release
New Premiership begins three-year journey to raise standard
This weekend sees the start of the new Scottish Hockey Premiership, which will replace National League One as the name for the top divisions of Scottish club Hockey in both genders.
The new leagues have been established following a consultation with performance-focussed clubs, where agreement was reached on a set of fifteen criteria which will be phased in over a three-year period. The agreed criteria will take the pinnacle of Scottish club hockey on a three-year evolutionary journey designed to systematically deliver transformational change, and bridge the gap between domestic and international Hockey.
This season will see a small number of changes, including the new title; formation of a new management group designed to give clubs a greater say in the development of the leagues; moving to four quarters and changes to the play off structure. These initial changes are designed to more closely mirror international hockey and promote positive play.
Scottish Hockey’s Head of Performance Andy Tennant said, “The recent consultation process has been really positive, with a genuine consensus between the leading clubs and our performance team on the best way forward for the pinnacle of the domestic club game. As a result, we are excited about working in partnership with our leading clubs, both those in the Premiership – and others with ambition to compete at that level. We recognise that we are just at the start of the journey, but look forward to working together at what is an exciting time for Hockey in Scotland”.
Scottish Hockey Union media release
USIU, Sailors play catch up matches
By AYUMBA AYODI
Butali Sugar Warriors forward George Mutira (left) vies for the ball with Polycap Otieno of USIU during their Kenya Hockey Union Premier League match at City Park Stadium on September 15, 2019. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT | NATION MEDIA GROUP
United States International University-Africa (USIU-A), Strathmore University, Amira Sailors and Lakers will engage in crucial catch-up battles in the women’s hockey Premier League this weekend.
Defending champions Telkom, who are undefeated, enjoy a clear nine-point lead in the 10-team league standings with 26 points with USIU-A coming in second with 17.
Strathmore are third with 15 points followed by Lakers and Sailors, who have 11 points each.
Lakers, the only other side yet to lose a match this season, will host Kenyatta University in Kisumu while Strathmore take on Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) at City Park Stadium on Saturday.
Sailors host USIU-A at City Park and victory will see them close in on Telkom at the top.
USIU-A have five wins, two draws and a loss, while Lakers have two wins and five draws. Winless Kenyatta are seventh with two points from two draws and seven losses.
Strathmore have four wins, three draws and two defeats while JKUAT languishes at the bottom of the table with two points from six losses and two draws.
With no injuries, USIU-A coach Willis “Awilo” Okeyo believes they have the pedigree to catch up with Telkom since they have two games at hand.
“We must keep on winning with good margins and pray that we beat Telkom convincingly in the return leg,” said Okeyo. USIU-A lost to Telkom 2-1 in the first leg but edged out Sailors 2-0.
USIU-A wasted myriad of chances in their 1-0 win over Sliders last weekend. “The girls had just come from a break and had not trained hence the blunt striking force,” said Okeyo. “Three points were still good for us.”
Meanwhile, defending champions Butali Sugar Warriors will be seeking not only extend their lead but unbeaten run when they meet struggling Strathmore University in the men’s Premier League duel at City Park on Saturday.
Butali are coming off an inspiring 2-0 victory last weekend against USIU-A, a win that saw them reclaim their top position in the league with 27 points.
The Warriors have two matches at hand to match second-placed Wazalendo, who have 25 points.
The other men’s Premier League match of the weekend will see Greensharks host USIU-A on Sunday at the City Park.
Men’s Premier League: -Butali v Strathmore (6pm)-City Park
Women’s Premier League: - Strathmore v JKUAT (4pm) - City Park; Lakers v KU (1pm) - Kisumu
Men’s Super League: - Kisumu Youngstars KU (1pm)-Kisumu; Bungoma Farmers v MMU (2pm)-Bungoma; Mvita v Parkroad Badgers (4pm) - Mombasa
Women’s Super League: - UoN v Wolverines (2pm)-City Park; Nakuru v TUK (3pm)- Nakuru
Men’s National League: - MKU v JKUAT (12pm) -City Park
Men’s Premier League: - USIU v Greensharks (5pm) City Park
Women’s Premier League: Amira Sailors v USIU (3pm) -City Park
Men’s Super League: -MSC v Parkroad Badgers (9am)-Mombasa; TUK v KCAU (9am) - City Park; Bungoma Farmers v KU (9am)-Bungoma; Kisumu Youngstars v MMU (10am)-Kisumu; Impala v Nakuru (1pm) - City Park
Women’s Super League: - Vikings v UoN (11am)- City Park
Masters League: - Impala Veterans v Defence Forces Veterans (6pm) City Park
Champs Butali keen to teach Strathmore hockey lessons
By Elizabeth Mburugu
Butali's Kenneth Nyongesa reacts for the ball when they played Strathmore in the premier men at City Park. [JENIPHER WACHIE]
Kenya Hockey Union men’s Premier League champions Butali Warriors lock horns today with former holders Strathmore University's Gladiators at City Park.
Butali will be looking to extend the good run against the struggling Gladiators who are currently one place above the relegation zone.
While the sugar millers will be hoping to maintain the unbeaten run, the students will be chasing their fourth win this season.
The defending champions top the standings with 27 points 17 more than the 2016 winners who are eighth.
The two sides have played two matches each with Butali chalking eight wins and three draws while the students have won three, lost seven and drawn one.
Going into today’s clash, Butali captain Kenneth Nyongesa said they will be going for nothing but maximum points.
“We want to continue winning because that is the only way we will succeed in defending our title.
“We don’t look down on any of our opponents based on previous matches and against Strathmore, it will not be different because we need victory to move us closer to achieving our goal,” Nyongesa said.
Butali are favourites to win today’s match having dominated Gladiators in the past winning six out of their last seven encounters with the seventh ending in a 1-1 draw.
During the first leg this season Butali thrashed Strathmore 7-0.
In another men’s Premier League match, United States International University of Africa (USIU-A) will take on Greensharks tomorrow.
A win for third placed Sharks will see them narrow the gap between them and second on the log Wazalendo who will not be in action this weekend.
In the women’s Premier League title chase, debutants Lakers will host winless Kenyatta University (KU) Titans in Kisumu.
This clash will pit two sides with contrasting fortunes. While newcomers Lakers will be out to maintain their unbeaten record, Titans will be hoping to finally get it right and register their first win this campaign.
Titans who returned to the Premier League after winning the women’s Super League title last season have had a poor run and risk demotion to the second tier.
They are second from the bottom tied on two points with Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) who lead from the wrong end of the table.
Titans will be hoping to overturn the 1-0 first-leg loss to Lakers in April this year.
At City Park, Strathmore Scorpions will take on JKUAT who are yet to taste victory.
Scorpions who are third with 15 points will be out to extend the dominance over JKUAT who they have beaten in all their past meetings with their recent one being a humiliating 9-0 victory in the first leg.
Tomorrow, Amira Sailors will play USIU-A Spartans.
The Standard Digital
Behind Noelle Frost, Maryland field hockey holds onto 3-1 win over Penn State
Defender Bodil Keus fires a shot during Maryland field hockey’s 3-1 win over Penn State on Sept. 20, 2019. (Gabby Baniqued/The Diamondback)
Noelle Frost knew what was coming.
Penn State’s penalty corner unit had just fired a shot past Frost, reducing Maryland field hockey’s lead to 3-1. And with the Nittany Lions creating yet another corner opportunity, the goalkeeper had an idea of what they’d attempt.
So when the ball shifted over to defender Anna Simon, the senior shot-stopper dove to her right, blocking off the bottom right corner.
Frost pushed the ball outside the cage, preserving Maryland’s two-goal lead. It was one of seven saves that Frost — the NFHCA’s Division I Defensive Player of the Week — would make in the fourth quarter to push the Terps to a tight 3-1 victory in their first Big Ten contest.
“In the fourth quarter, we kind of fell apart,” coach Missy Meharg said. “We got really sloppy … but all in all, I’m super pleased.”
Both the Terps and the Nittany Lions struggled to create chances in the first quarter, recording a combined three shots.
Maryland probed around the midfield, hoping to open up shooting lanes for its midfielders and attackers. But Penn State proved resolute, getting bodies in front of the ball to greatly diminish the quality of its opposition’s chances. Defender Kelee Kepage fired an effort over the bar, while midfielder Madison Maguire saw her shot whisk over the cage as well.
“In the break between the first and second quarter, I said two things,” Meharg said. “‘Take your restarts as fast as you can … and go forward with the ball.’ … I think they responded very well.”
Consequently, the game opened up in the second frame, with the Nittany Lions flashing a speculative ball across Frost’s goal line. But midfielder Emma Spisak wasn’t able to get strong contact on it, with Frost sliding across the goal mouth to deflect Spisak’s shot away from the cage.
Two minutes later, the Terps would be on top, with Lepage forcing goalkeeper Brie Barraco into a save. Maguire was active around the cage, though, eventually flicking the ball past Barraco to give the Terps the lead.
And Maryland would add to its lead toward the end of the half, with defender Bodil Keus finding the net from yet another penalty corner.
“We have very powerful, potent players in those [penalty corner] spots,” Meharg said. “It was a good outcome.”
As the game progressed into the second half, Penn State tried to increase its influence. However, Maryland’s forwards and midfielders stifled its midfielders, keeping the ball in the Terps’ half.
Eventually, the Terps would extend their lead to three, as forward Mayv Clune tipped a wayward Keus shot into the back of the cage — her first score of the season.
“Mayv is a phenomenal field hockey player,” Meharg said, “She’s a goalscorer, so I’m not surprised.”
The Terps recorded seven shots in the third period, a testament to their attacking mindset. And that mindset helped limit Penn State’s creativity, with the Nittany Lions recording a sole shot in the frame.
Despite the seemingly insurmountable lead, Penn State continued to search for a goal. And the Nittany Lions were rewarded for their increased intensity, forcing seven penalty corners in the fourth.
“We started off pretty well,” Frost said. “Towards the end, we got a little uncomposed when it came to the number of corners we gave up.”
With six minutes left in the fourth, midfielder/defender Madison Hutson whipped the ball beyond an outstretched Frost to break up Frost’s clean sheet.
And just 20 seconds later, Simon rocketed the ball into the cage off of a penalty corner. However, the defender hit the ball above the backboard, meaning that the goal was disallowed.
But the Nittany Lions continued to push on, peppering Frost’s cage throughout the fourth. The senior was equal to each of their efforts, though, preserving Maryland’s 3-1 win to open Big Ten play.
“We need to … keep our composure,” Keus said. “We keep improving from game to game, but the next Princeton game, it needs to be a level up.”
Dutch connection paves the road for Virginia field hockey’s future
Ezechiels, Geusgens and Janssen share more than just a passion for the game
By Muhammad Amjad
Freshman striker Laura Janssen has already score twice in her first season. Courtesy Virginia Athletics
As the sun beats down on an unforgivingly hot Charlottesville Sunday afternoon, there’s a noticeable buzz at Turf Field — Virginia field hockey’s home. Sitting at No. 5 in the NFHCA coach’s poll, the Cavaliers are handling Yale, which would improve their record to 5-1.
Freshman back Cato Geusgens winds up her strike and fires a dart into the far side of the net — her second goal of the day — sending the Bulldogs back to New Haven, Conn., with a crushing loss.
Virginia field hockey has a very bright future. It starts across the Atlantic Ocean, nearly 4,000 miles away, in the Netherlands.
Geusgens is one of three Dutch players on the team — together, they make up a crucial part of the team’s young core.
In addition to Geusgens, fellow freshman striker Laura Janssen and sophomore back Amber Ezechiels have fostered a relationship that exudes leadership, production and pure, unadulterated fun.
Sophomore back Amber Ezechiels is a big reason why Virginia have only conceded six goals this season. Courtesy Virginia Athletics
Ezechiels is the oldest of the three players, having arrived at Virginia in 2018 from Nieuw-Vennep, Netherlands. As a pivotal starter in Virginia’s revamped defensive front this season, she’s a big reason why the Cavaliers have only surrendered six goals in as many games. She may very well be the fastest and most cerebral player in the squad, but Geusgens and Janssen value her for her mentorship as well.
“It’s really helpful being able to ask Amber about anything Laura and I need, like ‘what should I bring on bus rides, how should I study’ and so forth,” Geusgens said.
Ezechiels also recognizes her role as the eldest and most experienced of the trio.
“I’ve been here a year longer than [Geusgens and Janssen], so having had to adjust on my own helps me bond with the other two,” Ezechiels said. “I didn’t have anyone to ask questions about the specific Dutch-to-American culture shock, so I’m trying to help them with translation, living here and anything else.”
With this guidance off the field, Geusgens and Janssen have excelled on the field as both players have already notched multiple goals in the young season.
Freshman back Cato Geusgens scored twice against Yale to help Virginia improve to 5-1. Courtesy Virginia Athletics
Despite her youth, Geusgens’ uncanny ability to find the ball and combination of size and technique has allowed her to be an important player in Virginia’s offense. The native of Wassenaar, Netherlands is second on the team in minutes, a tribute to how much trust Coach Michele Madison has in the rising star.
Madison lives by her belief that all of her players are tremendously talented, but that seizing opportunities is what makes these players different.
“You just give them the opportunity — ordinary people do extraordinary things every single day,” said Madison.
Janssen may be the best kept secret on the entire team. Her quiet presence off the field is a shock to those who witness her tremendous ability to stop opposing offenses and score on her own. In just two starts, the speedy freshman from Nijmegen, Netherlands has already netted a pair of goals for Virginia.
So, what made these incredibly promising prospects move to the United States and play in Charlottesville?
For Ezechiels, the University wasn’t her first choice, but once she visited, the combination of the campus, people and atmosphere were key in making her decision.
“I thought that the team was so much better [than my alternatives],” Ezechiels said. “[Madison] always checks up on us and makes sure we feel comfortable playing, and she also asks our opinions and she values our input.”
Janssen also praised Madison’s compassion and ability to make personal relationships.
“She’s really tuned into how [Ezechiels, Geusgen and I] are feeling, how our mental state is — so I really like that she checks on me,” Janssen said. “If we have a meeting, she’s really focusing on how I’m handling being this far from home and enjoying the team. It’s not always hockey-related.”
But the road wasn’t always easy. Transitioning from living in the Netherlands and abruptly coming to school in central Virginia still has its difficulties. Yet, the players have each found a way to thrive.
“My mom brought me to U.Va., so I got to show her around and that helped me adjust,” Janssen said. “It’s an adventure — you’re so busy, so you really want to enjoy the time you have [in Charlottesville]. I just miss the food [in the Netherlands].”
That’s where assistant coach Ole Keusgen stepped in. Keusgen, a native of Germany, knows what it’s like to face the challenges of living and playing in the United States as a foreigner. He’s used that perspective in making sure the girls thrive in their athletic, academic and social environments.
“I had a conversation with Coach Ole, and I really enjoyed talking to him,” Janssen said. “The European connection, community and beauty of the University made [choosing U.Va.] an easy choice. He understands what it’s like to live overseas and stuff, so that’s really helpful.”
Still, the girls seem to be each other’s rock in all aspects of life in Charlottesville. There’s a clear rapport between the trio that makes their friendship shine beyond the field.
Virginia field hockey has enjoyed a resurgence in 2019 after a disappointing finish to the 2018 season. Through six games, the Cavaliers are 5-1 and have outscored their opponents 16-to-6.
The biggest question facing this year’s team is whether the success will continue — Ezechiels, Geusgens and Janssen are all doing their parts to ensure that Virginia makes a deep run this season.
As the rest of the team hurries to get back into the locker room after a grueling weekend featuring two tough matchups — a roar of laughter echoes from the back of the crowd as Ezechiels and Geusgen go back and forth on who is the messier teammate.
The Cavalier Daily
No. 12 Ohio State drops to No. 11 Northwestern 4-1
Ohio State then-freshman midfielder Esther Clotet Alsina controls the ball on a fast break during the Buckeyes’ 1-0 loss to Michigan on Sept. 22. 2017. Credit: Colin Hass-Hill | Former Sports Editor
Up 2-1 in the third quarter, Northwestern field hockey selected redshirt freshman forward Bente Baekers to take a penalty corner that could swing the momentum back from an Ohio State team vying for a comeback.
Baekers converted for her second of three goals on the day, and the No. 12 Buckeyes (4-3, 0-1 Big Ten) never recovered, dropping 4-1 to the No. 11 Wildcats (7-2, 1-0 Big Ten) at home on Friday.
“We knew the players that were going to make plays for them,” Ohio State head coach Jarred Martin said. “There were moments that I thought we did a good job and our intensity was high, but when we didn’t, they made us pay, which is what good teams do.”
Baekers leads the Big Ten with 33 shots, 10 goals, and 1.25 goals per game. She was this past week’s Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, and continued her hot streak with four shots and a hat trick against the Buckeyes.
Northwestern doubled Ohio State in shots, with a 12-6 advantage for the game, and a 6-2 edge in penalty corners earned.
Ohio State made the game competitive in the second quarter with a goal from freshman midfielder Mackenzie Allessie. The goal came unassisted as Allessie drove into the box, defended the ball, and pivoted into a slap-shot past the keeper.
The goal cut the Wildcat lead to one score, but the Buckeyes weren’t able to capitalize on the momentum and didn’t muster a shot in the third quarter.
“Compared to last year, we’re so resilient,” Baekers said. “We really want to get better than last year because our season last year wasn’t so great,” Baekers said.
The Wildcats began to run away with the game, and Baekers’ third quarter goal was the second of the goal that was deflected off an Ohio State player into the net.
“A little bit of bad luck,” Martin said. “In the first half, it was the same thing, so we actually scored two goals on ourselves.”
Martin said the team will work on better body and stick positioning on penalty corners in order to decrease the chances of giving up a score on a deflection.
Senior back Whitney Harris played 59 minutes of the 60 for the Buckeyes, the most among any Buckeye outfield player. She said conditioning and inconsistent intensity factored into the loss.
“Our off-ball movement wasn’t as high today, and usually it’s higher,” Harris said. “That’s one of the ways we usually outwork teams, especially when we’re outletting the ball.”
Ohio State will face another ranked Big Ten opponent when it travels to No. 7 Iowa next Friday for a 3 p.m. matchup.